Friday, April 08, 2016

10 Cent Pistol

Written and directed by Michael C. Martin, 10 Cent Pistol is the story of two criminals who both plan a job to retrieve a savings bond that was owed to one of the criminals where things suddenly go wrong in the planning. The film is a mixture of film noir, the heist, and all sorts of things as it revolves around two brothers who did a job for a crime boss only to get fucked over where one of them wants to get what he‘s owed while the other becomes very cautious. Starring Adam Arkin, Brendan Sexton III, Jena Malone, Thomas Ian Nicholas, JT Alexander, Damon Alexander, Jessica Szohr, and Joe Mantegna. 10 Cent Pistol is an interesting but extremely messy film from Michael C. Martin.

The film revolves around a heist inside the home of a crime boss where two brothers are trying to retrieve a savings bond that one of them was owed to for serving jail time. Along the way, a shitload of problems ensue where the brothers don’t trust each other as well as the fact that there’s some resentment brewing. At the same time, the two try to play their own angles into getting this and that where the result becomes a mess. Writer/director Michael C. Martin wants to create something that feels like a modern noir film as it is largely told from the perspective of these two brothers who always did things together but when they meet this crime boss. Things go wrong where the two did separate things with bad results where one goes to jail and the other being broke. At the same time, one of them was dating a wannabe actress who would end up being with the other brother as complication ensues where she finds herself involved in the scheme.

Martin’s direction is largely straightforward in terms of the compositions and the way he sets things up. Notably for a key sequence in the second act where the younger brother Jake (JT Alexander) is trying to steal a car without being seen by the cameras and do it carefully as it is one of the more engaging moments of the film. While Martin’s usage of close-ups and medium shots have their moments, the script with its non-linear narrative does make it hard to comprehend into what is happening where Martin is really trying to do something that has audience guessing what is going on and such. It ends up being nonsensical at times while it would also lag into the pacing where the non-action and heist scenes try to feature elements of humor that never gels. The film however does have a satisfying payoff of sorts as it relates to someone involved as it shows the stupidity of what people will do over something as trivial as money. Overall, Martin creates a decent but undercooked suspense-thriller about two brothers trying to retrieve a savings bond they’re owed to.

Cinematographer Michael Fimognari does nice work with the film‘s cinematography though it does have a low budget look in the way many of the daytime‘s exterior settings while doing some fine lighting for scenes set at night. Editor Aram Nigoghossian does terrific work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with some montage-style cutting for some of the set-ups though it doesn‘t do enough to comprehend some of the messiness in the film. Production designer Adrina Rose Garibian does excellent work with the look of the apartment home of the brothers as well as the place where their boss lived in as well as some of the places the characters go to.

Costume designer Mynka Draper does wonderful work with the costumes as it is mostly casual for the men along with some of the stylish clothes and dresses the character of Danneel wears. Sound editor Trip Brock does brilliant work with some of the sound such as the carjack scene inside the garage as it plays up some of the suspense in the film as well as some scenes in bars and such. The film’s music by Jim Dooley does excellent work with the score as it‘s a mixture of low-key, guitar-based music with some ambient textures though it tends to be overused at times in some of the moments while music supervisors Jim Bissell and Evan Dubinsky bring in a soundtrack that consists of rock and pop music.

The casting by Emily Schweber is pretty good as it features some notable small appearances from Jessica Szohr as a friend of Danneel who would do a double-date with the brothers, Emilio Rivera as Easton’s halfway house advisor, Brendan Sexton III as a friend of Jake who would help out in the scheme, Thomas Ian Nicholas as the boss’ son H-Wood who deals with the awful situation he’s in, and Adam Arkin as a surgeon who is friends with the gangster that helps out in healing Easton. Joe Mantegna is brilliant as the gangster Punchy where Mantegna does a lot of things as a man of wisdom and charm while being very dangerous as Mantegna makes the most of his brief appearance.

JT Alexander is alright as the more cautious Jake who is resentful for his brother’s troubles as he tries to do what is right while Damon Alexander is OK at times as the more brash Easton as the older of the two though he often comes across as a loudmouth and tries to be tough as it’s a performance seen so many times in other films. Finally, there’s Jena Malone in an amazing performance as Danneel as this wannabe actress who starts off dating Easton until he is sent to prison where she falls for Jake as she finds herself entangled into a scheme where Malone manages to find ways to rise above the material despite the horrible situations that she is surrounded with throughout the film.

Despite the top-notch work of Jena Malone and Joe Mantegna, 10 Cent Pistol is a terrible and messy film from Michael C. Martin. Due to a nonsensical script and the desires to be all things in a crime film despite a few noteworthy moments. The film is just simple something lackluster in what it wants to be while being hampered badly its low-budget look. In the end, 10 Cent Pistol is just a bad film from Michael C. Martin.

© thevoid99 2016


ruth said...

Jena Malone is so freakin' talented, I wish she were in more movies. Too bad she's wasted in this one though.

thevoid99 said...

She's someone where you could put her in a bad movie but for some reason. She ends up coming with a great performance and can rise above some of the worst material out there. I wish she was in better films and is a bigger star right now. Yet, she's currently pregnant as I'm not sure when she's due at the moment.